They may be cute and thy may look friendly but DO NOT feed the animals. This little guy has obviously been acclimitized to human contact which is not a good thing. These are wild animals. Sooner or later this the chipmunk will bite somebody or become so reliant on handouts that he won't be able to fend for himself. Let wild animals stay wild. Observe but do not interact!
One of Banff National Park's attractions is its wildlife, especially the larger mammals. Moose, elk, mountain goats, mountain lions, bears and wolves inhabit the park. They are quite a sight to see but they must be given space as they are wild animals. If they lose their natural fear of humans they can become a nuisance or even a threat.
Read all the literature about wildlife that the park staff give you. Do not feed or approach the animals, no matter how adorable they look. If there are baby animals then a protective mother cannot be far away. Mating season can bring out aggressive behaviour in animals. Seal and store food securely, and dispose of garbage properly. Be watchful while driving in case animals run out onto the road. When hiking, stick to marked trails and make noise so that you don't surprise animals. Avoid using strongly scented soaps and personal care products which could attract animals.
Too many times, we've read about tourists getting a little too close to the elk that wander around the town of Banff....they ARE wild!!
The picture you see is from:
Surprisingly, elks are most dangerous animals (even more than bears). They cause more injuiries than any other animals in the park. Do not try to get close to them and take photos. Their behaviors are unpredictable, especially during their mating season.
I was quite lucky this morning. A black bear with her cubs were spotted right after I get off my car at the Herbert lake parking lot in the early morning. They were having breakfast in the bushes :) I tried not to disturb them and waited a while until they went away.
As you will be aware, there is plenty of wildlife within both Banff and Jasper National Parks. The unfortunate thing is that there are also some stupid mindless morons (and that is being polite!), chasing the wildlife everywhere just to get the special picture.
There are even more stupid mindless morons who seem to have lost the ability to read warning signs, and generals signs on how to treat any wildlife you should meet on the roads.
There were 3 incidents that amazed me:
1) People out of their cars, climbing a roadside banking to get a close up picture of a Black Bear - about 10ft away from a sign quite clearly saying "STAY IN CAR AT ALL TIMES - YOU ARE IN BEAR COUNTRY!"
2) People screeching on breaks (in wet weather!), getting out and abandoning their cars in the middle of the road to get picture of some Elk grazing at the side of the road - both scaring the Elk and blocking the road completely in both directions!
3) Some plonker, sitting right behind 4 bighorn sheep peeping his horn over and over and over to try and get the sheep to move! They were only on one side of the road - he could quite simple have slowly driven around them! Whats worse is that he got so close to them that they got a fright and ran away in all directions - what a complete idiot!
Be warned that there are lots of these people around - they should all be completely ashamed of themselves!
We are proud to say that we never put any wildlife or ourselves in danger at any time and paid complete attention to all signs at all times - after all, thats what they are there for!
I went on a tour up to Johnson's Canyon. On the way theere was an elk standing near the side of the road, so the tour guide stopped the bus to explain and let us take pictures.
when asked why he wasn't letting us off the bus to get a closer look and get better pictures he explained that elk are the most dangerous animals in the Banff area. While 9 times out of 10 elk will be calm and harmless, it really sucks to be #10 and end up in the hospital for months with a punctured lung, or worse. He said he'd rather take on a grizzly than tangle with an angry elk.
This photo is not real, it is a dramatization of events that I observed firsthand in Banff. The actors are trained professionals. Do not try this at home.
Seriously, I doctored this picture in photoshop to show my wife Becky next to an elk. But in Banff we observed a man coaxing his wife (or girlfriend) ever closer to a male elk so that finally she was within an arm's distance of the elk. The elk could have caused serious damage. National Parks are not petting zoos. I don't understand why people want to get so darn close.
If it is important to you to get good close-up shots of wildlife (it was for me) then for goodness sakes get yourself the right equipment. The disposable kodak cameras are not going to get the job done. Nor are the standard lenses that come with a SLR.
This guy looks pretty close--but in reality I was standing behind my car a good distance away from him. I never approached an elk to get a better shot. I just waited until they positioned themselves in my line of sight and I zoomed.
Many idiots walked right up to the elk getting within ten feet or so. Again dangerous for the person and dangerous for the elk. I hate sounding like a shrew, but you cannot imagine how many times we saw people approaching the wildlife.
Banff is home to many grizzly bears, however, the park enompasses such a vast area that it is highly unlikely that any one visitor will come face to face with a grizzly. They do tend to move up into the high country and backcountry in the summer when visitors are most plentiful. There are exceptions. In 2002 a grizzly sow and her cubs frequented the Morraine Lake area and several of the trails in the Consolation Lakes area were deemed to be very dangerous and hikers were told to hike in groups of six or more.
Certainly no one would want to get this close to a grizzly (it is stuffed and on display in the Lake Louise visitor center) but seeing a grizzly from a mile away or so is always thrilling. I have seen plenty of grizzly in Denali in Alaska, but none on the recent trip to the Canadian Rockies.
One thing is for sure, never move towards a grizzly. They are the most dangerous, unpredictable and deadly animals on the North American continent.
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